Sleeping at Warp
Tom Paris couldn’t sleep.
He stared at the untouched pillow beside him, by the ambient glow of Utopia’s night cycle, coming through the viewport he’d forgotten to dim. He sat up. Outside, a lone magnesium flare flickered from a worksite midway down a stretching starship nacelle.
The computer signaled.
There are sixty-two messages and eighteen duty reports awaiting review.
“Do any mention status of B’Elanna Torres?”
“Open a channel to Utopia Planitia Berthing Station.”
—I, uh, was trying to reach Seven of Nine.”
Captain Chakotay nodded amiably from Tom’s viewscreen. “Seven’s just stepped out for a walk, to test the Tertiary-Port coil’s plasma exhaust systems. I thought I’d keep her company, which as it turns out, means monitoring the biosigns of her EVA suit. Is there anything I can do for you, Tom? In case you’re wondering we received an update from Starfleet Medical an hour ago.”
“How are they?” Tom tried not to sound impatient, but he doubted there was very little his commanding officer couldn’t sense.
“Maybe you’d better read it for yourself.”
The screen split and the Starfleet Medical letterhead appeared, followed by the scrolling text of a brief paragraph.
Chakotay studied his friend. “I thought it could wait until you awoke.”
Tom exhaled and rubbed his weary eyes. “I was in a staff meeting when Miral lost consciousness. I was reviewing emergency protocols with damage control team leaders. The Doc said it was an enzymatic imbalance in her parasympathetic nervous system. When he found the same imbalance in B’Elanna, they all transported to the Utopia Planitia Medical Facility for observation. Doc cleared me for duty after that; he’s been checking both crews with the help of the Perseus EMH. So far, no one else is showing any sign of a problem.”
Chakotay absorbed Tom’s concern; “Well it looks like there haven’t been any more problems with B’Elanna or Miral since then. You know these Fleet medicos. They just love to sink their teeth into every little mystery.”
“As far as the Doctor would have me believe, it’s a minor curiosity. Their first impression was that it was a genetic issue, but they’ve ruled it out. He said they would be looking into known diseases of the nervous system, radiation exposure, and possible biological contaminants. Until they can verify the etiology of the enzyme alteration, they’re keeping them on a simple inoculation treatment and—observing.”
“You sound doubtful.”
“B’Elanna’s forbidden me to interrupt my duties to visit her. She says Perseus needs my full attention now, with the trials coming up. Doc says stress might aggravate the imbalance and he wants to keep her sedated. The medical staff said it probably wasn’t necessary, but—it’s B’Elanna
. The Doc knows her better than they do. I can’t say I blame him. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling a little strain between my loyalties.”
“B’Elanna may be right, Tom. But for what it’s worth—I know how you must feel.”
“Command training. Or—is it because of your experience with dual loyalties between Starfleet and the Maquis?”
“There were times when, my heart, my conscience, everything I ever believed in, were in direct opposition to what my captain needed from me.”
“What did you do?”
Chakotay’s voice dropped into a soft tone that belied the weight of an absolute conviction. “I drew the line, Tom. Fortunately it didn’t cost me my career—but it might have. The thing was—I wasn’t wrong. I was right. But that didn’t make it any easier defying my captain and my friend. But she got me back, eventually.”
“Oh? What did she do?”
“She gave me these.” He pointed to the four solid Captain’s pips on his collar.
Tom smiled. Chakotay’s eyes brightened; his mission accomplished. “I’m reassigning Seven to the Perseus engineering department in the interim; that is, if her First Officer complies.”
Tom shook his head. “He’s a real stuffed shirt. Probably too busy to notice all the help he’s receiving from the people around him. I tell you, Chakotay—sorry, Captain
“We’re both off duty, Tom, and I left my pointed hat in my quarters.”
Tom visibly relaxed and smiled. “I tell you, Chakotay, I have a whole new appreciation for your command on Voyager—right from the day Captain Janeway made you First Officer. You made it look like an easy job—especially compared to Tuvok’s Exec.
“That’s no way to talk about a man who earned his commission, Tom. Tuvok appointed the logical man for the job.”
“I think Captain Tuvok was secretly trying to punish the crew.”
“Give him time. Perseus is an unfledged ship. Every officer has his own methods, his own command style. Before he does, he has to make a few mistakes. You know, learning opportunities. Admiral Janeway once told me she excelled because she had a higher quantity of ‘learning opportunities’ than her peers.”
“Well. When you put it that way—”
“Sometimes it’s difficult balancing loyalties with chain of command. It may take a little creative problem solving. And the understanding of those whom are loyal to you—whose loyalty you have earned—regardless of command.”
Tom regarded his former Commander. “I just don’t want to let anybody down again.”
But Chakotay always knew how to win an argument—with just a look.
A klaxon sounded. Red alert
, came Tuvok’s voice over the shipwide com.
Tom’s communicator chittered. Bridge to First Officer
, Captain Tuvok said. Mr. Paris to the bridge.
He nodded to Chakotay. “On my way.”